For Screaming Out Loud

As a writer, I am pedantic about language.  There are certain words, certain phrases that I deem ‘cliche’ or just plain horrendous.  Even more horrendous is when they appear in myown writing.

One of my greatest and most pedantic pet hates is the word ‘scream’.  I have never once used the sentence ‘such and such screamed’ in any writing work to date.  It makes me flinch when people use it.  Describing screams is alright – the screams of the murdered girl, the scream of the baby rabbit, the girl screamed loudly – they’re all fine.  But when it’s used after dialogue, for some reason I despise it.

This all comes to mind because I was just writing a murder scene.  My favourite murder scene, actually.  There are a few, but this girl gets the best death out of everyone.  She’s sitting in a bathroom when a guy (the murderer) comes to the door, where her boyfriend is sitting like one of those suit-of-armour things they have in old houses.  He wants to talk to her, but can only do it from inside the bathroom, not outside.  The boyfriend’s smart and doesn’t want to let him in, but the girl totally falls for it and soon the murderer’s inside, has kicked the door shut (and jammed it) and has taken a knife out of the pocket of his blazer (big pockets, those blazers have).  At this point, my character was about to scream.  But then I thought ‘scream’?  Maria would never scream.  She’s too up herself to scream!’

To me, screaming is for the weak.  It’s for the damsels in distress who scream the names of their lovers when the evil bastard holds a knife to their throat, or for three-year-olds having tantrums.  They are about the only places where the word ‘scream’ belongs.

It DOES NOT describe manly men being put through a lot of pain.  I’m sure there’s another word out there to describe said situation (I don’t know what it is, but then again, I’ve never written, and probably never will write, a situation like that).

It DOES NOT describe unmanly men being put through any sort of uncomfortable trial at all.

(Let me just get one thing straight here: MEN DON’T SCREAM.)

It DOES NOT describe strong women no matter what situation they’re in.

The word ‘scream’ is a word denoting hysteria, wildness and babies.  If your character is NONE of those things, please DO NOT use the word scream.

And for your information, Maria cried out when the knife entered her stomach, puncturing a lung which then filled up with blood, making her drown and choke for breath until she finally died with her boyfriend sobbing by her side.  If that isn’t a manly scene, I don’t know what is.

(I hope the sarcasm was noted)